The White Countess - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The White Countess Reviews

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½ January 25, 2012
whenever Fiennes and Richardson met, it felt like nothing/ no one else mattered -- some brilliant acting!
½ December 24, 2011
Riveting period drama featuring mother and daughter and sister combo Vanessa & Lynn Redgrave and Natasha Richardson
December 10, 2011
While not perfect I was won over by the performances of Fiennes and Richardson. I cared and rooted for their characters, hence a thumbs up.
August 13, 2011
Love the kind of movies that give us foreign history lessons without knowing it. It's 1936 Shanghai replete with a handsome Japanese spy, a blind, disillusioned American Ambassador, exiled Russian nobility and the
dislocated. Todd and Sophia have a romance much like Ilsa and Rick in Casablanca, the bar, where the action is, a respite from the conflicts raging around them.

Lots of conversation so I'll have to watch it again.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2011
A blind American diplomat and a exiled Russian countess join forces to build a jazz nightclub in Shanghai in the period leading up to the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Typical of a Merchant/Ivory production, the set and costume design is lush and colorful, a work of art by itself. But also typical of their work, there is an awful lot of talk; in fact, most of the conflict in this film takes place in the past, the characters revealing tortured bits about themselves rather than the suspense created from watching conflict happen. The only scenes in which this flaw is not true are in the third act, far too late.
The highlights of the film are the performances by the brooding Ralph Fiennes and the glamorous Natasha Richardson. Both actors create sharp characters, and they make the too-talky exposition compelling just by their presence.
I think that many American audiences, many of whom haven't been exposed to Chinese history, will get lost, unable to place the political turmoil that backdrops the film's action. The White Countess is set in that odd time between the wars, and there are few clues to ground the setting. What is more, many Americans may not realize what a diverse, bustling metropolis Shanghai was at this time and why it is conceivable that the Russian aristocracy would be exiled there. Hopefully this film is an impetus to pick up a history book or two (if you actually go beyond Wikipedia, I recommend The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave).
Overall, The White Countess is by no means a great film, but it has a lot to offer for the right audience.
July 8, 2011
wow well what can i say , great cast , great story . this is one those movies that just dont get recognized for its greatness . wonderful connection and performance between richardson and fiennes .
½ June 14, 2011
'that's it?' couldn't help asking seeing its 'ending'.
so tedioussss
the only thing is that Russian noble family makes me sick coz they're just too fxxking selfish!!
½ June 1, 2011
½ May 9, 2011
great cast and of course Ralph Fiennes , but sure is not the best work of James Ivory
April 12, 2011
From watching the extras it's clear a lot of work has gone into the making of this film. A shame it didn't work at all. I felt completely disconnected; it's pretty lacklustre and dull. The only reason it's worth watching is for the gem that is Ralph Fiennes.
March 19, 2011
dull despite Ralph Fiennes
½ January 23, 2011
You can pretty much put Ralph Fiennes in anything and I'd watch, add Natasha Richardson and the Redgraves to boot and you definitely have a great film for me and this was! It was pretty depressing but then again it is mainly about war and a love-story second. But the characters are all so rich and multi-faceted, it's difficult to pick a favorite and the story was wonderfully multi-layered. I had the opportunity to catch this once on tv before but didn't get to finish it, so when Netflix put on it on my recommended list, i was like "yes, please".
December 30, 2010
Set in 1930's China, The White Countess centers on Sofia Belinsky (the taken too soon Natasha Richardson), a Russian countess who prostitutes herself to support her exiled family. She meets blind American diplomat Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes) who wants to open a Shanghai nightclub with Sofia as his hostess. War with Japan looms and Todd begins to see his club as a sort of league of nations. The screenplay (by the amazing novelist Kazuo Ishiguro) is frustratingly convoluted, but director James Ivory manages to get some first-rate performances our of his stars, especially Richardson. At not time is she more vital than when she's acting alongside her mother Vanessa Redgrave, playing her aunt, and her real-life aunt Lynn Redgrave, playing her on-screen mother. They find the emotional life in the story and run with it, and Fiennes matches Richardson wonderfully. The White Countess not only a stirring tribute to Richardson, but also to producer Ismail Merchant, who along with Ivory, made some of the finest British films in modern cinema. This was their last collaboration, and a fine one.
December 28, 2010
A beautiful film, sumptuously shot with glorious colours evoking the grandeur of Shanghai in the 1930's. Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson play the male and female leads respectively, struggling with a sub-standard script. People have waxed lyrical about the themes of isolation that run through the rhetoric, but it's just so depressingly done, at the end of the film one doesn't actually care for the protagonists any more. Ralph Fiennes plays his blind diplomat as a buffoon, appearing drunk in almost every scene. Natasha Richardson struggles with a Russian accent and fails miserably. The only masterstroke is the casting of Vanessa and Lynne Redgrave as the mother and aunt respectively. It lends the film an authentic air of continuity. Ultimately, the film fails in its execution, it's overlong and could have done with tighter editing. It's a pity that this had to be Merchant-Ivory's swansong.
½ December 12, 2010
Natasha Richardson and Ralph Fiennes
Super Reviewer
August 5, 2010
The last collaboration between Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, the White Countess is far from perfect. However, like all their prior films, it has a standout cast, impeccable production values, and beautiful photography that captures the era perfectly. While some what of a let-down as far as the story goes, it still has some nice moments, and if you're a fan of period romances and Merchant/Ivory films in general, you'll want to see this one, too. Fiennes does a good job in his role as the blind diplomat, and the late Natasha Richardson also give a multi-layered performance as the countess. It stands in the shadows of their better works, and can't really stand up to scrutiny as far as the pacing and script and narrative. It tried and failed to be a latter-day Casablanca, but it's still a finely crafted film.
July 21, 2010
Yet another excellent film that NO ONE has heard of!!! "sigh"
June 12, 2010
Couldn't get into it, it was terribly slow and very uneventful, d Russian accents left much 2 b desired
April 12, 2010
Natasha Richardson was poignant as a displaced Russian countess trying to support herself, her daughter, and her in-laws in Shanghai, China, in the late 1930's. She lost her position in society, her wealth, in the Bolshevik Revolution and she struggles in a low-class, dead-end job. This movie could have had more passion and zing but Merchant Ivory films have problems with scripts that get "lost" about 1/2 way through the movie. Not the worst movie I've ever seen but I gave it 3 stars for Richardson's performance.
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